He had slipped outside, resting back against the foundation of the house, his eyes watching the fall of the snow as each flake drifted to the ground. It was so calm out here, the animals didn’t disturb it, the wind was settled, his own breathing was calm. This was what he liked about this place except now he knew that this wouldn’t last. Once he got himself back into that house he was going to be stifled again, suffocated by the situation he had allowed himself to sink into, pulled in by memories he didn’t really want to remember. But what could he do? His mom was happy and this would only last a week. He could handle a week. He had handled much bigger things before.
It wasn’t something he could ignore though. He couldn’t stand there and pretend like he could stay in that room with Essie by himself without feeling himself lose control of himself all over again. Back there in that room he had felt himself wanting so badly to give into her, wanting so badly to feel himself take a part of her that he hadn’t had from anyone in such a long time. There had even been jealousy there when he had listened to her talking to her husband and he knew inside that feeling all of that wasn’t good nad it wasn’t right. Not good for letting go once the week was over, not good for her and definitely not good for himself. Having to come out here to clear his head of her was just a sign that he was getting far too close.
A breath escaped his lips forming a smoke to release out onto the air. It was cold, he felt the shiver start at the base of his neck and run down his spine slowly. His eyes blurred the image before him and he knew that he had to start rebuilding those- what he thought were- unbreakable walls that he had put up all that time ago. No one got in, that’s the way that he kept it. No one ever had either, those girls that he brought into his bed, giving them at most a smile once they left, they never got close. It had worked so damn well until Essie came. And the knowledge stung so badly, salt rubbing its roughened grains into his wounds at the thought. Shannon knew exactly who he would go for, he’d been right.
Six more days. If he could get through six more days he would be able to figure all of this out on his own. He would be able to ignore the fact that Shannon and everyone else had even been a part of it. He would finally be able to sink back into himself, enter himself into self therapy and find a way to heal of the opened wounds that wouldn’t close in onto themselves. Jared wasn’t used to being weak and right now all he wanted was that strength back, all he wanted was a moment so that he could feel in control, just one moment that he could revel in. If he got that back then everything would go back to normal.
He had to think about the things that weren’t appealing about Essie, things that didn’t compliment his own personality. He had to think about the things that wouldn’t be good for him. But the problem was that every time he tried to force his mind to unearth at least something nothing wanted to come. All he got were the thoughts of how good she was for him, how she managed to make him feel. All that he got was how much of a light within the ruined dark she had been back in New York, how being with her hadn’t just been sex like he was so used to having but it had been something much deeper. He had given her something from inside of himself and he was certain she had yet to give it back. She had managed to get beneath his skin, taste the soul that lived inside of him as if that was what she had been out to do the entire time.
Just talk. He was going to talk to her. Moments like that couldn’t happen, not again and definitely not soon. They wouldn’t even talk to each other outside of the conversations that happened when his mom and everyone else was around. And once they were away from here they would go their separate ways. That was all. There was no need for talking, for getting to know one another, things like that didn’t matter, not now. Jared had to resist the urge to want to get to know her. She would be like whatever paintings she painted, he knew the brush strokes, studied the colors but he wouldn’t know the meaning, that would be lost in the grain and material of the canvas.
The door opened and Jared’s eyes turned towards it. His mom was coming towards him, eyes full of the smile that was there on her colored lips. She looked content now, like this trip, this moment did her more than good. Of course it had. She was a busy woman and she was always so worried about everyone and everything. This trip meant relaxation, meant giving her time to be with the people that meant the most to her. And he had given her what she had been wanting for quite awhile. He was giving her an opportunity to see him happy. But he was going to end up unraveling that once this was over. How was he even going to explain that to her?
"It’s cold out here, you might get sick." She softly said, her eyes searching his. She knew there was something wrong. It was a thing that had formed as he got older and they grew closer. A sort of bond that he felt was suddenly lacking inside of him. Shannon had seemingly let it go and now all he had was his mom. That was enough but it wasn’t the same. Her brows tensed together as she waited for his answer, for a kind of explanation. "Are you alright?"
Sniffing back whatever emotion had threatened to leak over he gave her a nod and a half genuine smile. “I’m fine just…thinking.” He softly said, tucking his hair back behind his ears and letting out a small breath. She would know what he meant, he figured that anyone probably would. There was the crack in his previous facade. His sorrow had been displayed so openly within the people that he knew in his private life. Everyone saw it, they saw him break, saw him fall apart. He had patched himself up the best that he could.
She nodded, hand reaching out to gently rub his arm as she glanced out towards the snow kissed scene in front of them. There was a lake beyond those trees, frozen over no doubt. A sweet wind whispered along the atmosphere, so gentle that its silence was a form of calming in itself. She took a deep breath and then looked back to Jared, his profile, the raging emotions quietly being stifled in the blue of his eyes, the way his lips were pressed together, how he was literally forcing himself to actually breathe. There was still an ache there and she had to wonder if he was making himself do all of this for her. She felt a sense of guilt. If he wasn’t ready to move on he shouldn’t have to.
"Jared…" She softly called out catching his attention when he turned to look at her. She tried to think of what words she would use before she lowered her eyes, tip of her boot kicking in the soft ivory snow. "…if you’re not in anyway ready…" She didn’t like broaching this subject, she had never known that a woman could scar her son so quickly, so easily and the memories of the toll it had left on him was the pain of knowing that maybe she had failed him somewhere. He wasn’t very vocal about it but finding someone, knowing that he was accepted and loved for who he was, that was important to him.
But he was shaking his head just then, eyes full of assurance as he held her eyes. “Mom, don’t say that. I’m fine. Everything that happened before it belongs there, belongs right in the past where I left it. It was all so stupid wasn’t it?” A scoff and a breath of a smile filled him as he turned his eyes out towards the distance again. “What was I? Five and losing my first girlfriend?” He shook his head, hand pushing back through his hair making the snow melt into the strands. “it’s over.”
She nodded then and gave something of a smile as she reached her arms up and wrapped them around him. A sigh left him as he gently returned the embrace. Her eyes closed as she said something of a prayer, a wish that he was going to be just fine. There was always a hidden melancholy that was resting there beneath his liveliness, beneath his ability to hold people’s attention. He held so many layers inside of himself that she even had trouble trying to peel them all back. She just wanted to make sure that he would be alright, maybe there was a point where he had to be on his own to figure that out, but that wasn’t something she wanted to do, especially not quite yet.
Jared pulled from her arms and smiled down at her, lightly rubbing her upper arms. “I needed that.” He said, letting out a soft laugh that she returned. There was a cold flush to his cheeks now when he smiled and the weight of emotions that had filled his eyes earlier had disappeared at least for the moment. “Can you do me a favor?” He asked, a rather playful smile now resting on his lips then.
She nodded once his arms were down at his sides and her own were folded across her chest to further protect herself from the cold around them. “If it means getting you out of this cold, sure.” She replied, laughing softly again. That earned a nod from him and she was relieved. She wasn’t sure if it was fine to still be so worried about her sons even though they were so grown up now but something like that was always going to be there and she really couldn’t help it. “What is it?”
"Do you remember that hot chocolate you used to make when I was small?" He asked, biting down on his lip to suppress the smile that was about to come again. When she nodded, her eyes light and expectant he let the smile return. "Could you make some more right now? Maybe some cookies too? That’d be nice wouldn’t it?" His suggestion was so sweet she couldn’t help but hug him again and once she pulled back she led him towards the house again.
"Of course I can, you sit here at the bar and you can watch but…" She stopped once she was in the kitchen and turned to face him again. "…could you call Shannon too? Also, do you maybe want Essie-"
He took a breath and gave her a nod, roughly being pulled back into the present that laid in shards all around him. But still he gave her a nod. “Yeah, I’ll go get them both.” He replied, turning on the sounds his mom was beginning to make in the kitchen to head towards the bedrooms. He really didn’t want to think about any of this, didn’t want to be brought down into his own ruined plans but he knew that he was going to have to be, no questions asked.
But just as he was about to open the bedroom door a knock at the front stopped him. He looked back to his mom who was busy and already had the thought that he would get it. It must be one of their cousins, or another family member although he could have sworn that they were all here last time he checked. Giving a shrug he headed towards the door and quickly unlocked it.
Seeing who was standing there he felt startled, surprised, shocked. His brows tensed together and his eyes filled with surprise. He just stared at her for the longest time. Blonde hair fixed back into a neat braid over her shoulder, brown eyes returning his stare with a gentle plea resting inside of them. She was the same, the exact same and everything about seeing her there in front of him made him want to step forward and take her to him again but he stayed where he was, lips tensely pressed together and jaw firmly set.
"What are you doing here?"
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